Here's a fascinating article on the power of belief, framed in cultural beliefs about the night-mare/'old hag' experienced during episodes of sleep paralysis:
They died in their sleep one by one, thousands of miles from home. Their median age was 33. All but one - 116 of the 117 - were healthy men. Immigrants from southeast Asia, you could count the time most had spent on American soil in just months. At the peak of the deaths in the early 1980s, the death rate from this mysterious problem among the Hmong ethnic group was equivalent to the top five natural causes of death for other American men in their age group.
Something was killing Hmong men in their sleep, and no one could figure out what it was. There was no obvious cause of death. None of them had been sick, physically. The men weren't clustered all that tightly, geographically speaking. They were united by dislocation from Laos and a shared culture, but little else. Even House would have been stumped...
Twenty-five years later, Shelley Adler's new book pieces together what happened, drawing on interviews with the Hmong population and analyzing the extant scientific literature. Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind Body Connection is a mind-bending exploration of how what you believe interacts with how your body works. Adler, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, comes to a stunning conclusion: In a sense, the Hmong were killed by their beliefs in the spirit world, even if the mechanism of their deaths was likely an obscure genetic cardiac arrhythmia that is prevalent in southeast Asia.
In short, after reviewing all the evidence, Adler "makes the provocative claim that the Laotian immigrants of the 1980s were in some sense killed by their powerful cultural belief in night spirits."
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"Reality and the Extended Mind" is an (ongoing) online documentary that "explores the scientific evidence of the interconnected nature of consciousness". In Part 1 of 3, embedded below, it explores research into psi phenomena, talking to the likes of Dean Radin, , Robert Jahn, Roger Nelson and Brenda Dunne about presentiment research, the Global Consciousness Project, and numerous other fascinating topics.
"Reality and the Extended Mind" is available freely on YouTube (parts 2 and 3 are on their way), and is a non profit film produced with the simple goal of fulfilling public interest and education. Great to see.
Oh yum. Check out the list of speakers for the 2011 Parapsychology and Consciousness Conference, to be held October 14-16, 2011 at Virginia Beach, VA: Julie Beischel, Dean Radin, Edwin May, Roger Nelson, Carlos Alvarado, Nancy Zingrone, Stephen Braude, Loyd Auerbach, and more. For anybody interested in research into psi, remote viewing, the paranormal and the afterlife, this conference looks to have nearly all bases covered with that line-up:
This October, at the Parapsychology and Consciousness conference, we are bringing together some of the best minds in both fields, many of whom are at the forefront of research. These dedicated men and women are seeking the answers we need. Some study the relationship of psychic experiences to psychological well-being. Others focus on the intersection of psychic phenomena and modern physics. All are working to get an unbiased understanding of what we know out to the people who need it the most. Our speakers think deeply about the scientific underpinnings of psychic functioning and about what these phenomena say about interconnectedness, entanglement and the meaning of life. Come join us for this truly unique conference!
For registration details, go here. I'd be there in a flash if I didn't live half a planet away.
Here's one of the best optical illusions you'll ever find, done as live video:
This video illusion is a direct reconstruction of the famous Checker Shadow Illusion, created by MIT professor Edward H. Adelson in 1995.
The following is a modified excerpt from Paul and Charla Devereux's book Lucid Dreaming: Accessing Your Inner Virtual Realities (Daily Grail Publishing, 2011). Available from Amazon US or Amazon UK and other online bookstores.
The techniques used for inducing out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are essentially similar to lucid dream inductions, but with a different emphasis. The power of place (spatial programming) takes on special importance, and ways of developing a dual awareness can be helpful. Most OBE practitioners agree that when inducing the experience, physical relaxation is most important. A state of relaxed alertness is the ideal to be sought.
There seems to be no special dietary advice for OBE induction, though pioneering 'astral projector' Sylvan Muldoon recommended fasting and a reduction in the taking of liquids on days when induction is being attempted. On the other hand, dream researcher Patricia Garfield found that she had her strongest (and most frightening) OBE when she had been “inordinately stuffed with food”! As far as posture is concerned, there are likewise no universal rules. Muldoon felt that sleeping on one’s back was best, and failing that, the right side. Garfield felt that lying on one’s back or left side best facilitated OBEs. Robert Monroe, one of the most prominent OBE proponents of the last half century, said that the aspiring OBE practitioner should lie with his or her head towards the north, but Garfield argued that it made no difference what direction one slept in. Perhaps the only golden rule is to simply experiment! You have to find what works for you.
Select from the following methods, which have been laid out in an order with developmental exercises first, then actual induction techniques following. Put these in the context of the skills and approaches you have learned from your dream and lucid dream work where appropriate, so you can devise your own elaborations around the core concepts offered here, if you so wish. These exercises and techniques derive from traditional methods as well as suggestions from workers in OBE and lucid dream research. We have also presented some new ones, based on sound principles. Remember that many of the techniques described as being for use at sleep onset can also be used equally well (and often even better) on re-entering sleep after waking up in the morning. As with the lucid dream methods in Chapter 4 of Lucid Dreaming, some of the techniques described here will work well together, others will not and are alternatives. Pick and choose as you wish, remembering that all such exercises often require the investment of time and effort to bring results.
Worth noting: George P. Hansen's seminal book The Trickster and the Paranormal is now available as an eBook for just $9.99.
The paranormal encompasses everything from levitating monks to ESP, from spirits to cattle mutilations — an incredible and unsavory hodgepodge. The mix seems incoherent. But the trickster makes sense of it.
Among other things, this book explains:
- Why parapsychology and UFOs are shunned by establishment science.
- How anthropology and literary criticism apply to the paranormal.
- Why psychic phenomena are associated with mystical practices.
- Why tabloids often put paranormal features on their front pages.
Trickster theories are not well known. They are scattered across disciplines and hidden in obscure academic tomes. The Trickster and the Paranormal brings them together.
Given that the paperback retails for $22 on Amazon, the eBook release is certainly good value, and provides an affordable way for everyone to own this fascinating look at the trickster archetype within both the paranormal and skeptical fields. For further information about the book, including a wealth of ancillary material, head to tricksterbook.com.
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A recent episode of the fascinating Science Channel series Through the Wormhole discussed recent psi experiments on presentiment and global consciousness, and featured Roger Nelson, Dean Radin and Daryl Bem. I've created a playlist out of the two videos on YouTube featuring those gentlemen (which begins with discussion of the weirdness of quantum physics), but the entire episode has much more - so if you can, catch a repeat showing or purchase the entire season on DVD when it becomes available:
You can of course also keep up to date with Dean Radin's work by keeping an eye on his blog.
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Dr Michael Persinger of Laurentian University quickly became the science darling of skeptics and atheists a decade ago with news of his 'God Helmet', which appeared to show that 'sensed presence' of supernatural entities (and/or 'God') may be simply due to magnetic disturbance of the brain. Since then however, Persinger has not made himself an overly attractive science reference for skeptics as he has been involved with, and claims to have achieved positive results in, experimental parapsychology.
Earlier this year, Persinger gave the following lecture, titled "No More Secrets". In it, he detailed his theories on the connection between magnetic fields and the brain, in particular how this relationship could facilitate telepathy and remote viewing. He notes particular experiments and individuals (Ingo Swann, Sean Harribance) that seem to give evidence supporting his theories, and makes some fairly extraordinary claims which I'm sure will lead to some debate.
I had never seen Persinger lecture before - he's a great presenter, and with his usual suit and pocket watch, and precise mannerisms, makes for a fair caricature of an eccentric scientist. Whether you agree or disagree with his theories and evidence, it's still worth a watch just for some of the oblique insights that he has (e.g. when discussing the minuteness of fields involved, "don't think of 'bigness' as being important, it's the pattern that is important"). A worthy time investment for any science fiction writer...
The lecture is around 36 minutes long, and is followed by almost 20 minutes of questions and answers.
The title of the lecture emerges from the extrapolation of telepathy as a barely understood phenomenon, to a talent that all humans could use to know what was in any other person's brain. What would it be like if there were 'No More Secrets'?
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Consider this: approximately a third of our life is spent asleep, and in an average lifetime we experience about half a million dreams. And yet for most of us that part of our existence is like a closed book - we might remember an occasional vivid dream, but usually our dreams are just vague, fragmented shadows that evaporate in our minds as soon as we open our eyes. So here's a new book from Daily Grail Publishing to help us all reclaim this 'lost' part of our lives, and what's more, get loads of enjoyment out of it: Lucid Dreaming, by Paul and Charla Devereux (available from Amazon US and Amazon UK). This updated and revised edition of their classic 1998 guidebook explains the history and nature of dreams and lucid dreams, and then presents a uniquely comprehensive range of techniques, tools and aids for attaining lucid dreaming yourself:
Forget your 3D cinema and TV, and your virtual cyber-worlds - these are but pale electronic imitations of what you can access through your own mind. This book shows you how to dream lucidly, which means waking up inside dreams while still physiologically asleep. Lucid dreaming is a genuine altered state of consciousness, not merely vivid dreaming, in which you can find yourself in other realities that seem as real as waking consciousness. There is no limit to the creations you can explore, because the biological wonder that is your brain is the most complex thing we know of. You can have fun, meet departed friends and relatives as if they were still alive, rehearse actions you have to undertake in the normal world of daily reality, experience mystical and paranormal mind states, and much more.
Go grab a copy of Lucid Dreaming from Amazon US or Amazon UK and "live the dream"! Besides the personal benefit you'll gain from reading the book, each copy sold helps keep the Daily Grail up and running, so it's a win-win situation. And feel free to spread the word to friends!
(Note: If Amazon says the book is "temporarily out of stock", it's just a quirk in their system. They should be able to refill stock within 24 hours)